Several studies claim that physical exercise produces changes at the brain level. Now, a recent study seems to indicate that a sedentary lifestyle also causes changes in the brain.

Sedentary lifestyle and health problems

The physical inactivity and the sedentary lifestyle are the most important risk factors for the development of different diseases. In western societies, due to the increase in comfort in the home, the increase in technology or the long working hours in increasingly intellectual jobs, many people lead a sedentary lifestyle which is harmful to health and well-being.

Data published by the WHO warn that at least 60% of the world’s population does not engage in the physical activity necessary to obtain health benefits . Sedentarism is the fourth risk factor for mortality in the world, and causes 6% of global deaths. In addition, 30% of people in Spain are sedentary.

Sitting more than 6 hours a day causes 30% of cardiovascular disease, 23% of breast and colon cancer and 27% of diabetes.

The negative effects of sedentarism

Since the negative consequences of sedentarism are many, here are some of the most prominent:

  • Obesity : the metabolism slows down when a person has a sedentary lifestyle, so it is easier to gain weight.
  • Weakening of the bones : the lack of physical activity causes the weakening of bones and leads to diseases such as osteoporosis.
  • Fatigue : Low physical condition causes a person to fatigue very quickly. Everyday activities such as walking or climbing stairs pose great physical challenges. In addition, cholesterol increases.
  • Heart problems .
  • Propensity to muscle tears .
  • Decreased elasticity and joint mobility, decreased ability and responsiveness.
  • Slowing down of the circulation with the consequent sensation of heaviness and edema, and development of venous dilations (varicose veins).
  • Lumbar pain and injuries of the support system, bad posture, due to the poor development of the tone of the respective muscle masses.
  • Tendency to suffer from diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, colon cancer.
  • discouragement , malaise, low self-esteem, decreased concentration

Brain changes caused by sedentarism

Over the past decades, researchers have studied the psychological benefits of exercise, and have concluded that exercise can improve our cognitive functions . Regardless of age or physical condition, taking time for exercise also produces changes in the brain and many benefits for our mental well-being.

But a recent study claims that not only does physical exercise cause changes in the brain, but that sedentary lifestyle also produces brain changes: in this case, for the worse. A lifestyle characterized by physical inactivity can change the structure of neurons, negatively affecting an individual.

Studies with rats

The study, conducted by Wayne State University School of Medicine, was conducted with sedentary rats and normal rats. A dozen rats were used, which were separated into two groups. One group was forced to remain inactive while the other used wheels to run at will.

After 3 months, the sedentary rats had additional ramifications on neurons located in the ventrolateral rostral medulla, a portion of the brain stem that controls breathing and other central, unconscious activities of the body. Neurons in this area of the brain are involved in heart disease and hypertension, as they control blood pressure through the altered constriction of blood vessels.